Things you need to know from a potential telematics system provider

Telematics is a complex topic, and you don’t really need to know everything about it to be able to use the capabilities of your system to your satisfaction. But how do you not fall for a solution that will generate more problems than benefits? Let’s see!

Thinking about investing in telematics for your fleet, but you are discouraged by the fact that you don’t know anything about it? Google displayed a lot of companies and offers, they all look alike at first glance, and you don’t know how to go about it? We suggest what you should ask the future telematics supplier for your company and what answers you should find satisfactory.

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  1. Regionalization, or where am I actually calling?

Although it probably has the ambition to be a continental or even global business, your company has a specific location. Your employees – both drivers and forwarders or dispatchers – come from a specific country and speak a particular language. Therefore, you need a telematics system that communicates with your employees in their language. But the issue of regionalization has two more very important aspects. First of all – support available in your language. When something breaks down, when a technical problem occurs, or when your employees simply get confused with operating the system, you wouldn’t want to struggle with e-mails and phone calls in an exotic language. Help in your language is essential. Thanks to this, you will quickly explain the problem and get the necessary technical support instead of getting even more unnecessary trouble. Another issue is the local office in your area or country. What if you decide to expand your fleet, or you need to correct invoices? If your supplier is represented in your country, that’s not a problem. A quick call or e-mail, and that’s it. You can also meet and efficiently find the most suitable solution for your needs. We know that in the 21st century, everything can be done over the Internet, but at the same time, we believe that sometimes face-to-face meetings and a little brainstorming are more effective than the longest teleconferences with representatives from the other side of the world who do not understand the reality of your local market.

  1. It’s worth being up-to-date

A telematics system is a set of equipment cooperating with appropriate software, which uses specific technical solutions. Technology is constantly moving forward – both hardware and software change. Your telematics provider should keep your solution up-to-date. Let’s skip technological innovations, which may make the connection between the dispatcher and the driver in a truck traveling on the other side of the continent more efficient and reliable, or collect more data. Mainly because in addition to the number of kilometers traveled and fuel burned, it will be possible to e.g. check if your driver likes to accelerate hard or if the temperature in the trailer has risen (by the way – yes, both can be checked). But imagine such a trivial situation that your driver sets off on a route equipped with a telematics system using out-of-date GPS maps and thus stumbles upon an inactive road or overwrites the route even though he could take a newly opened highway. Your telematics provider must ensure that their software and equipment are always up-to-date. If not, the system will quickly become obsolete. So ask when there were last updates and what changes occurred or when the next one is planned. You will soon find out if the supplier has his finger on the pulse.

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3. Data, or what will I get out of it?

Telematics systems, although at first glance very similar because they are designed for the same purposes, differ. Some are more functional, others less so. Some use software or hardware from third-party producers (we will come back to this in the next paragraph), others bring everything they need with them. And above all, some offer to monitor fundamental indicators, while others can do much more, despite the same costs. So it is worth asking what the system can do to know what data can be obtained. It’s also important to realize that less, in this case, is not more, and minimalism is not a valuable feature. If you can get more information at the same or similar price, you should use this option. Even if today you have no idea how you could use some of the data offered by the system, remember that tomorrow, your company may develop, and the reality may change. When your competitors will try desperately to adapt to the new situation, you will be ready.

  1. What is this invoice for – hidden costs

The payment system should be clear, no matter how it looks – whether it is a one-time payment or a subscription form. Either way, in many cases, you may encounter hidden costs that the sales representative will not mention at meetings and only become apparent after signing the contract. Their form varies greatly, so keep your eyes and ears open and stay focused. First of all, ask if the system offered by the provider does not require additional investments in hardware or software from external manufacturers. To properly connect the module in your trucks, it may turn out that you need to buy another element. It may also be the case that to use the system, it is necessary to purchase a license or subscription to additional services of other producers on which the software is based. This should not be the case – the pricing must consider all your costs and preferably without paying additional invoices.

  1. We haven’t done this before – experience

Do you have 50 vehicles that you would like to equip with telematics, and the supplier you are talking to has worked with small fleets of up to 5 vehicles so far? It doesn’t have to be, but it can be a problem – with many software, you can’t scale it from small to a large app without compromising on functionality or performance. In other words, some programs may not be able to withstand the volume of traffic if they are designed for smaller fleets. Sometimes, for technical or security reasons, the software has a limitation in the number of users or active accounts. Keep this in mind when choosing a telematics provider. The more experience he has, the larger the portfolio of successful projects similar to your needs he can present, the greater the certainty that you will also be happy from this investment. By the way – pay attention to one more thing: whether the system manufacturer works with companies in your industry. After all, if you want to equip your construction machines with telematics, you won’t necessarily want to experiment with the car-sharing system, right?

  1. Who does it and where: programmers

This point may seem strange to you, but it is very important from a technical support point of view – ask your vendor who is working on his software. If these are employees of his company, wherever it is – great. However, be careful if the company outsources their programming and external companies or contractors create its software. In this case, obtaining technical assistance in the event of a failure may be difficult because the hotline or support staff may not have access to the documentation they would have if people who wrote the program from scratch were working in the next room.

  1. I can only check it from behind my desk, that is, mobile solutions

We probably don’t need to remind you, but just in case: in the reality of the first half of the 21st century, mobile solutions are an absolute necessity. We are not just talking about mobile apps that drivers can use on their smartphones or tablets on the road. We also mean remote access to data and the possibility of redirecting alerts from the system to the phone or e-mail. After all, you wouldn’t want to find out about weekend problems with an important cargo until two days after the fact, when you show up at your desk after the weekend?

  1. Nothing is leaking from my company, i.e. data security

You may not realize it, but the telematics systems of fleets are full of information that should not fall into the wrong hands. After all, there are data of drivers, vehicles and contractors, and even information about where the driver spent the night during a long route. It is not only about decency, but about the law too – some of this information is legally protected, inter alia, by the famous GDPR, but not only. In many cases, your competitors can easily use data about your company or the cargo you are carrying that belongs to your customers. Therefore, telematics systems simply have to be safe. All acquired and stored data must be properly secured, and the system itself must also be resistant to physical manipulation with modules installed in vehicles. Only then will it be possible to say that the indicators obtained through them are reliable and do not fall into the wrong hands. So make sure your prospective telematics provider puts the right emphasis on this.

If you want to learn more about how our system is created and operated or look for a solution that suits your company – don’t hesitate to contact us!